Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day on average, circulating the equivalent of about 2,000 gallons of blood each and every day. To accomplish that, your heart uses a series of valves that open and close in a specific way to keep blood moving in one direction. If a valve malfunctions, it can have a dramatic effect on your heart’s function and on your overall health, as well.
MitraClipTM therapy is a minimally-invasive procedure developed to repair a malfunctioning mitral valve, one of the primary valves of the heart. As a top-rated cardiology practice in the greater Phoenix area, Phoenix Heart, PLLC, offers the state-of-the-art MitraClip procedure for patients at its Glendale, Goodyear, Anthem, Buckeye, and Black Canyon City, Arizona, practices. Here’s how the MitraClip works and what to expect during a MitraClip procedure.
How MitraClip works
The MitraClip is a tiny device — about the size of a dime — that attaches to your mitral valve, the little “door” that connects the upper left chamber of your heart (the left atrium) to the lower left chamber (the left ventricle). The mitral valve opens and closes in rapid succession, so blood flows from the atrium into the ventricle.
In order to keep blood flowing in the right direction, the mitral valve must close securely to prevent blood from flowing backward. A damaged or weak mitral valve can’t close securely, and that means blood can move in the opposite direction, back into the atrium (a condition called valve regurgitation or mitral insufficiency).
Over time, this backward flow can impede circulation, making it harder for your organs and other parts of your body to get enough oxygen-rich blood. People with mitral valve regurgitation often experience symptoms like:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen ankles or feet
Repairing a mitral valve used to mean open heart surgery, a technique that’s still used in some patients. But open heart surgery is not always the best option, nor is it even a possible option for patients who aren’t strong enough to withstand the surgery. The MitraClip device can be inserted during a minimally-invasive procedure, making mitral valve repair possible for many more women and men who need it.
The MitraClip procedure
The MitraClip procedure uses a catheter, which is a long, thin, flexible tube that’s inserted through an artery in your groin. The catheter is carefully advanced through the artery to your heart. Once the catheter is in place, it’s used to attach the MitraClip directly to the “flaps” of the mitral valve. The clip provides additional support to enable the valve to close more securely, preventing regurgitation and helping blood flow in the right direction.
MitraClip placement is performed while you’re under general anesthesia, so you’ll “sleep” throughout your treatment. During the procedure, your doctor will use diagnostic imaging to guide the catheter and perform the clip placement. Most procedures take from 1-3 hours, depending on your anatomy. Afterward, you’ll stay in the hospital for 1-3 days before being discharged home.
Although the MitraClip device and procedure offer plenty of benefits for patients with mitral regurgitation, for some patients, traditional mitral valve repair or replacement might be a better option. Your surgeon will be able to determine which option is better for you based on your exam, your medical history, and imaging studies, along with other tests.
Learn more about MitraClip therapy
Without medical treatment, mitral valve regurgitation can lead to heart failure and even death. If you have mitral valve regurgitation or if you’re experiencing symptoms associated with the condition, call Phoenix Heart or use our online form and request an evaluation and consultation with our team today.